Since 2007, when the Santa Cruz City Schools Board of Trustees created the Green Schools Committee, the school district has focused on reducing its carbon footprint. And just five years after the committee's inception, the district is receiving a statewide award for its efforts.
Santa Cruz City Schools will be awarded the 2012 Green Schools Leadership Award at the Green Schools Summit on Sept. 27 in Pasadena. Organizers say the award is given to "the school district that has demonstrated support for green building and other green programs through passing resolutions, backing…financial vehicles for green building projects and for having an overall vision of sustainability that exists district-wide.”
Since 2008, energy costs have been cut by 13 percent, according to a prepared statement by the school district. Efforts that have helped cut the bills incude:
- Soquel High Schools’ solar system has produced renewable energy equivalent to 116,212 gallons of gas.
- Solar panels at Santa Cruz High School that have offset the carbon dioxide equivalent to 500 mature trees since its installation in November 2009.
- School buses retrofitted to reduce diesel particulate emissions.
- PG&E rebates have been used to replace 77 older thermostats with 365 programmable thermostats – adding both energy and operational efficiencies that will cut down on district costs.
“This award is a testimony to the commitment of our whole community,” said Ken Wagman, Santa Cruz City Schools board president and chair of the Green Schools Committee. “Over the past five years, an amazing collaboration among staff, teachers, board members, administrators, students, parents, and local non-profits has worked to green school buildings and reduce our carbon footprint. Perhaps the more lasting impact, though, will come from having introduced curriculum to teach these values to our students.”
Over the last five years, the school district, in addition to the efforts listed above, has purchased low-mercury flourescent lamps, recycled copy paper, recycled toilet paper and paper towels and recycled towels, storage bins and toilet seat liners.
Santa Cruz City Schools includes Soquel High School, Santa Cruz High School, Harbor High School, five elementary schools, two middle schools, one charter school and four other education centers.